Fine art's a funny thing that I barely pretend to understand. In this molasses-slow four-hour drama, Jacques Rivette proves that he's got an understanding of fine art, but a minimal one of the art of movies. Four hours of sketching, painting, and posing a naked Emmanuelle Béart has a certain summer-in-the-south-of-France charm to it, but that can't drag us through 240 full minutes. The story is threadbare: Old artist, young visitor, his girlfriend becomes the old artist's model -- and together they figure out that neither of them is really in charge of the artistic process. Lots of self-discovery and philosophizing along the way. Very French, and actually much more capable of being enjoyed at a setting of x2 speed on your DVD player.
Only the French could make a romantic comedy that clocks in at more than 2 1/2 hours in length. And of course, it wouldn't have much of a plot, either. This wafer-thin production, reminiscent of a really long Oscar Wilde play, Starring Jeanne Balibar (the poor man's Audrey Tautou), the movie is a hodgepodge of love triangles and petty theft, some of which amuses, but not for long enough to keep this critic's interest over its full running time. A curiosity that's easily forgettable.